Anti-dumping duty and what's paper's future...

12 March 2018

The paper industry wants anti-dumping duty as imports surge by 40%. And so, in the six-year period from 2011, paper imports have increased at a CAGR of 18%. The Indian Paper Manufacturers Association (IPMA), on behalf of BILT Graphics Paper Products, has filed a petition before the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) to initiate an investigation concerning imports of ‘coated paper’ originating in or exported from China PR, European Union (EU) and the USA.

According to IPMA there are two investigations which are on. Both investigations are being conducted by DGAD. One is about imports of uncoated copier paper from Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore in November 2017. Two is about imports of coated paper from China, EU and USA in January 2018. In both cases, prima facie evidence of dumping was found to initiate the investigation by DGAD. IPMA hopes the process is expedited and anti-dumping duties levied on imports of these paper grades.
This matter has caused panic ripples in the print industry. Printer's bodies have filed a complaint before the Competition Commission of India for "cartelisation and random price hikes in five years." 
The paper is used for printing of magazines, catalogues, books and manuals, calendars, brochures, labels, flexible packaging, etc. The gsm for coated paper ranges from 40-350gsm. As senior print CEO said, "There is an import duty on paper (raw material) but the finished goods are freely imported. The day is not too far when shiploads of the Bhagavad Gita or Holy Quran would be imported from China. Or for that matter, container loads of children books or textbooks."
Meanwhile, we received a lot of messages for Bhavika Shah's feature The battle of the bag: paper or plastic? in the February 2018  issue.
The question is: Can paper replace fantastic plastic? Thanks to China’s ban on waste imports, the environmental action plan being discussed in Europe and also during PlastIndia in India and, perhaps most influential of all, the depiction of humanity’s devastating impact on sea life, plastic has regained its position as public enemy number one. Our consumption of the material is prominently unsustainable, and all eyes are on the industry to find a feasible alternative.
Paper coatings could be the answer. According to Smithers Pira, paper and paperboard packaging is expected to reach 218-million tonnes by 2022, up from 162-million tonnes in 2012. Meanwhile, the global market for functional and barrier type coatings reached nearly USD 6-bn in 2015, with 5% annual growth projected through to 2020, when sales are expected to exceed USD 7-bn.
These coatings are nothing new, per se, but they’ve traditionally struggled to gain traction due to performance issues compared to their plastic counterparts. This means, getting the right barrier properties, lightweighting, heat-proofing – the sort of things that plastics are good for. Then there are packing logistics. Once a converter has found a suitable alternative the converter can’t move from using a plastic tray that’s formed then and there on the line to a box which may need assembling. The transition away from plastic goes beyond simply finding a replacement.
Last week, the Maharashtra state environment department’s public notice asking district collectors to publicise the plastic ban from March 2018. There has been a ban on plastic bags below 50 microns since March 2006, but it has not been implemented effectively. The aim is to ensure wider participation of people as well as non-governmental organisations in the implementation. The items which have been banned are: cups, plates, glass, fork, bowl, spoons, flex, non-woven polypropylene bags, banners, flags, plastic sheets and all items with plastic covers.
A host of superbrands are committed to the reduction of plastics packaging. People want to see less plastic, and the industry is listening. A senior official at Environmental Management Centre LLP in Mumbai said, "The alternatives have to become more cost-effective in time. However, just because coated paper occupies a more environmentally friendly position than plastics doesn’t make it inherently ‘green’. There are a lot of factors to consider beyond the packaging’s properties."
Our industry needs to invest in the right kind of R&D. And we have to collectively address what has become a serious waste issue.
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